In a year which has seen razor wire go up between EU countries and far-right parties soar in popularity, Austrians on Thursday sent a different signal to asylum-seekers by voting “Willkommenskultur”, or welcoming culture, their favourite word of 2015.
Meanwhile, “I’m not a racist but...” earned the top spot for worst phrase in the annual poll, run by the University of Graz in collaboration with APA news agency.
Nearly 34,000 people took part in this year’s survey.
“Willkommenskultur describes attitudes and actions which help war refugees once again lead a life of safety and freedom,” jury leader Rudolf Muhr said on Thursday.
Although the word is commonly associated with German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door policy, many Austrians have also prided themselves on helping migrants arriving in the country after an arduous trek up the western Balkan route from Greece.
The Alpine nation of 8.5 million people expects a record 90,000 asylum claims this year, making it one of the highest recipients in Europe on a per-capita basis.
In response to the influx in recent months, hundreds of volunteers have welcomed the weary travellers at Austrian train stations and border checkpoints with food, clothes and medication. National aid organisations say they have also been swamped with donations.